Based on an unfinished Charles Dickens novel, this fun and frolicking murder mystery is a whodunit with multiple endings based on each audience’s preferences.
According to co-directors Connie Gatlin and Donyale Grove, there is a wonderful twist to the show that brings a rare and exciting element.
“The audience will actually vote on who they prefer as the murderer,” said Gatlin. “The votes will be counted and the audience choice will then be presented as the conclusion of the show. It will be a great evening of theatrical spoof and excellent music.”
Gatlin said audiences can expect one of the most exciting theatrical experiences in ages as they become part of the mystery of Edwin Drood.
“This is the most challenging play I’ve ever been involved in,” said Gatlin. “Mainly it’s because of the multiple endings. We will have prepared for five or six different murders. This will be a truly different theater experience. The audience is actually part of the cast! It’s really an interactive audience experience.”
Gatlin, owner of Cleveland City Ballet/Bang-A-Rang Productions, said people should come out and support the “A Taste of Mystery” event because the Tony Award-winning musical is an exciting and excellent theatrical experience and it supports public broadcasting.
“It’s really good!,” she said. “It’s for WTCI and we believe in the mission of public funding. It’s also a very important part of our culture.”
The show which is produced by WTCI, with Kathiann Montgomery as production manager, is offered as a gala fundraising dinner event for the public television station.
The Friday dinner performance kicks off at 6 p.m. with a social hour and reception, followed by dinner provided by Cafe Roma at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, doors will open at 1 p.m., followed by coffee and desserts which will be served with the performance that begins at 1:30 p.m.
The cast will be led by three talented teachers from Lake Forest Middle School; Herb Snowman, Jeremiah Pritchard and Josh Wenger who have a combined 21 years of experience teaching music, drama and band. Their performance skill adds depth and drive to an already talented group of performers, according to Gatlin.
Snowman carries the lead role in the show as the “Chairman” of the Music Hall Royale, where the “play within the play” is being performed,” said Gatlin, who calls it “an extremely challenging role due to the huge amount of monologue that Herb has mastered, which caused him to refer to this as the role of a lifetime.”
Jeremiah Pritchard, known locally for his skills as the show choir director from Lake Forest, brings what Gatlin calls “an incredible sense of comic timing and comedic line delivery to the part of ‘Durdles.’”
Josh Wenger, who introduced innovative teaching techniques in his choral and music classes, is the youngest of the three and also an accomplished actor. He will keep the audience guessing about his “slightly sinister motives as he becomes a prime suspect in the death of Edwin Drood,” Gatlin said.
In addition to the three talented performers, Ricky Donegan, another Lake Forest faculty member, will be playing in the live orchestra that accompanies the singers in their musical renditions.
Other cast and orchestra members include Greg Glover, Haley Anderson, Janet Conley, Lisa Gates, Robbie Goins, Kristie McCarthy, Tony Pharr, Bruce Selvage, Leah Snowman, Kathy Thaggard, Melissa Woody, Crista Wenger, Kyle Elrod, Sandy Donegan, Phyllis Norman, Alan Hunt, and Pam Smith. The orchestra is being directed by Cleveland High Band Director Jim Burton.
Concerning the talented and enthusiastic cast, Gatlin said, “They sing. They dance. They act. And they bring down the house!”
Seating is limited. Early ticket purchase is encouraged. Tickets can be purchased by contacting The Red Ribbon gift shop in Cleveland at 473-1114, by going online at www.wtciTV.org/eve-nts/a-taste-of-mystery or by calling WTCI at 423-702-7800.